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URMC / Strong Memorial Hospital / Friends of Strong / The Best of Friends Blog / November 2023 / A Season of Thanks: Volunteer Award Ceremony Recap

A Season of Thanks: Volunteer Award Ceremony Recap

Friends of Strong got an early start on this season of thanks by honoring some of the incredible volunteers of Strong Memorial Hospital at a celebration luncheon held recently—the first such award ceremony since 2019. It was a time to gather, be present and celebrate with inspiring people that create a deeply meaningful impact for our patients, their families, and our staff. Presented to volunteers that epitomize the spirit of giving, of compassion, and of motivation, nine selfless individuals—plus many truly amazing and equally selfless teddy bear makers—are the recipients of this year’s Friends of Strong Volunteer Service Awards.

“Volunteers are a vital part of the patient care team at Strong Memorial Hospital, says Sandra Arbasak, Director of Friends of Strong. “They provide much-needed services that enhance the health care experience for our patients and their families every minute of every day. They come to one of our locations to give their time and compassion in the service of others.”


Meet The Winners


Headshot of Sandy Page in front of bush, purple shirtSandy Page

The Dove Award recognizes volunteers who have completed at least three years of courteous, respectful service and who often ‘go the extra mile’ for our patients, families, and staff. This year’s recipient is Sandra “Sandy” Page. Sandy volunteers in the main lobby at Strong West, where, since 2016, she has served as a greeter that escorts patients and lends an empathetic ear. Sandy loves volunteering because she is able to help better someone’s day. “She donates food, toys, money, and other items to help support our events and the community,” says her supervisor, Jill Paladino. “She truly embodies the spirit of community service and giving back.”



Headshot of Chris Tryon, yellow background and red shirtChris Tryon

The Frances Brownell Volunteer Supervisor Award this year recognizes the exceptional leadership skills of Chris Tryon. In her role as volunteer supervisor, Chris is an incredible example of patience and demonstrates how to provide excellent care to our smallest patients. “Some of my favorite volunteer moments,” Chris explains. “Are when a volunteer proudly tells me how they were able to get a fussy patient to sleep, excitedly shares that an older infant smiled at them, or continually says how thankful they are to make a difference in an infant/family’s life.”




Headshot of Larry, gray background, green shirtLarry Billings

The Hettie Shumway Role Model Award is given to a volunteer who provides significant and unfailing service, is an effective role model for other volunteers and demonstrates loyalty to the hospital. This year’s recipient, Larry Billings, began volunteering with the Transplant Volunteer Program in 2016. Larry’s own transplant experience drove his desire to encourage others through their own transplant journeys. He’s passionate about showing others, through his experience, that there can be a life well lived after undergoing a procedure of this magnitude. One of Larry’s favorite memories is when a transplant candidate pointed to Larry and told his wife, “I want to be like that guy when I recover.”




Headshot of Sandy, purple sweaterSandy Stubinsky

The Louise Criticos Award honors an FOS volunteer that meets the highest and most consistent level of service in order to accomplish the Hospital’s goal of Patient and Family Centered Care. This year’s recipient is Sandy Stubinsky. Since 2016, Sandy has volunteered in the Wilmot Cancer Center as a hospitality advocate in the Infusion Center and has provided over 1,200 hours of service. Prior to volunteering, Sandy worked in Radiology and as a medical secretary for a busy cardiology group.




Headshot of Pat, blue background, black shirtPat Zampi

The Elizabeth Crozier Award is presented in recognition of outstanding, long term service to Friends of Strong and Strong Memorial Hospital. Pat Zampi is this year’s recipient. Pat’s volunteer experience with Friends of Strong began 29 years ago as a receptionist in the Family Waiting Room. According to Pat, the most important part of volunteering at Strong is engaging patients in conversations, listening to their stories and sharing her own story with them.




Headshot of Melissa, purple scarfHeadshot of Barbara, gray background, white sweaterMelissa Whelen and Barbara Cook

The Evening/Weekend Volunteer award recognizes a volunteer(s) who work a full time ‘day job’ and devote one or more evening/weekend days to volunteering with Friends of Strong. This year we are fortunate to recognize volunteers Melissa Whelen and Barbara Cook. These two experienced women bring their skills and dedication to support the ambassador team in our very busy Emergency Department. Emergency Department staff they work side by side with say, “It is an honor to work with these two ladies—they have the same dedication as some of our best employees—we are so lucky to have them as volunteers!”



headshot of Zachary, yellow background, blue shirtZachary Cheung

The College Student Award is presented in recognition of outstanding service to Friends of Strong while enrolled as a full time college student. This year’s recipient is Zachary Cheung, a shining example of the value of giving back to one’s community at any age. Zachary began as a hospitality volunteer in the Emergency Department in October 2022. He also offers to attend the first shift with new volunteers to get them settled into the very busy, loud and complicated ED.



Four ladies standing with hundreds of teddy bears they donated to pediatric patientsLegends at Whitney

Each year, a special group is also recognized by Friends of Strong for on-going, meaningful services to the patients of Strong Memorial Hospital.  The recipient of this year’s award are the extraordinary residents at Fairport's Legends at Whitney mature living community. Throughout the past three years, this creative sewing group has generously donated their time and talent handcrafting over 5,000 comfort bears for pediatric patients, in addition to several thousand hand-sewn face masks in the earliest days of the pandemic, and hundreds of activity mats for patients living with Alzheimer’s and dementia.


“We are incredibly grateful to work alongside such incredible and selfless people,” says Karen Keating, Friends of Strong Volunteer Program manager. “Friends of Strong will continue to foster a positive community that lifts up volunteers and those whose hearts they continue to touch.”

Emily A. Teitsworth | 11/3/2023

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